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Somehow, hearing Woody Allen read aloud by my mom just isn’t the same as hearing Woody Allen read silently inside my head in his voice. Although both are quite Jewy, something gets lost in translation when my mom’s voice carries the words, and I fail to emit a genuine laugh. Indeed, I roll my eyes and am happy for the shield of the phone.
“Ha,” I say, probably without conviction, as my mother cackles at the sentence she’s just read. “Funny.”
Acccch. How I can’t stand when someone says something is funny, without an actual laugh to accompany the sentiment.
After picking up the small clumps of green candle wax off the floor, I just didn’t feel like turning my body and walking perhaps three steps to the wastepaper basket to dispose of them, so I put the pieces in my mouth and started chewing. Although I knew I had just put wax in my mouth, it wasn’t until I tasted it and recognized it as non-food that I decided to scoot to my left and discard it properly. However, even as I realized this was the only real option, I still considered chewing the wax more and swallowing it.
Time is up, pencils are down, and papers are turned over. Miss Gardner, our third grade teacher, tells us to exchange math quizzes with a “neighbor”, so I hand mine to Ellen on my right, and Ellen hands hers to me on her left. We try not to smile. Best friends, we know what to do: what we always do.
I already have my broken-off pencil point concealed beneath my curled fingers, ready to turn Ellen’s “3”s into “8”s, her “1”s into “4”s, if needed. And she’s ready to reciprocate.
Ellen’s loyalty yields me the highest score in the class.
When Lisa and Randy met, they ignored that she died for chocolate and he lived for vanilla. Opposites attract, they insisted. Too much in common would make for an uncommonly boring time, they told their friends.
Three years later, Randy’s moving out, taking the only candle in the house whose scent doesn’t make him want to kill himself. (Vanilla, naturally.) And Lisa’s still screaming.
“I don’t care what you say! I still like FIFO!”
“First in, first out is so predictable!” he says, carrying a box to the car.
“Get out and stay out!” she says. “Have a nice LIFO!”
The last guest has passed from drowsing on the sofa to all-out sleeping, so she doesn’t witness the distress between the host and hostess who, a handful of minutes ago, had grinned thanks to the others for the housewarming. She isn’t awake to see what transpires when beyond-tipsiness takes a turn for the worse, when what had been just a furious exchange of jealousy-fueled words escalates to fisticuffs and the host’s teeth clamp down on the flesh of the hostess’ arm. So when the host shakes her awake and tells her to go home, she vaguely thinks he’s simply rude.
When we first met, he was steeped in head-to-toe suburban dad non-style. Oversized polo shirts tucked into belted pleated baggy-assed khakis. Button-down shirts with short sleeves to the elbows, tucked into reverse-fit Gap jeans. An enormous phone holder on his waistband.
“You must’ve really liked him to overlook that,” friends said.
One kiss and I knew he was way too hot for these uncool clothes. He was excited about an overhaul, so we Banana Republicized him into looking a dozen years younger and a dozen times hotter.
And now – a pocket-sized phone! And no tucking! And Ted Baker!
Project I Planned For 2007 But Didn’t Carry Out – And Which Is Too Late To Start For This Year – Which Means I Will Have To Put It Off Until 2009:
Every time I take a cab, jot down the number on the door. At home, enter it into an Excel spreadsheet, including the date and the origin/destination of my ride. At year’s end, sort the list in ascending or descending order according to the jotted-down numbers and note any duplicates. If there are, wonder if those drivers recognized me from the earlier rides and thought about mentioning it to me.
Every Sunday, Mona walks herself to brunch at her favorite organic restaurant, three blocks from home. Always alone, she engages the waitstaff in chirpy conversation while they attempt to start their work day. Within five minutes, her usual treat is set before her, and she sets about the ritual of eating it.
Posture perfect, she lifts her treat faceward. Eyes closed, lids butterfly-fluttering. Thin-lipped mouth shut, jaw churn-chewing. No one speaks to her now, so her ears are relieved of duty. When she’s done, her long, almost flesh-free fingers replace the bowl on the table.
Brown rice is so tasty!
The screams of my biodad (I don’t know at the time I will one day refer to him this way) ricochet off the walls of not only my brother’s bedroom, where they originate, but from every other wall in our ridiculously suburban split-level house.
For once, his yells are not attached to some horrible sin committed by one of his own three kids but by one of his brother’s two.
My toddler cousin, five years my junior, added color to the pristine wall by way of a 64-pack of crayons. The creativity his own father praises is castigated by mine.
“Excuse me,” Marla says, stopping her cart next to the man squatting to stock the shelves. “Where would I find the popcorn?”
“Here you go,” he says, standing up and moving aside so she can see the selection.
After a moment, she says, with a frown, “I don’t see the whole wheat.”
“I thought you said popcorn,” he says.
“But popcorn isn’t wheat.”
“This is Whole Foods, isn’t it?” she says. “So where’s the whole wheat popcorn?”
“Popcorn isn’t –“ he says with a sigh, and looks down at the floor. Then into her eyes. “We’re all out.”
I had no use for a sleeping bag, because I never went camping or slumber parties, but I wanted one anyway. Because I knew it would never touch the ground, I chose one that was really just like a zip-around comforter, and at night would slither into it and sleep atop my bed, safe in my cocoon. Sometimes I would invite my little Lhasa Apso to join me for the night.
When she died in 1986, we buried her with a eulogy I wrote but never read aloud, wrapped in the sleeping bag I thought would never touch the ground.
You’d think that someone playing a horn on a Saturday morning in Manhattan would be all sorts of romantic, right? Leaning in his window-frame, in tattered jeans and holey-elbowed sweater, unshaven, eyes weary of the world and the work-week, lazily intent on making the world, or at least his puny corner of the Upper West Side, a happier place by dint of the magic produced by his beloved instrument as he dreams of playing in the jazz clubs of 50 years ago, filled with smoke and hope?
Well, you’d be wrong. Even the most tone-deaf goose honks better than this.
I have no desire to keep up with the Joneses. I don’t even know who the Joneses are, and even if I did, I’m sure we’d have nothing in common, given that from what I’ve heard about them, all they care about is things that don’t mean squat to me.
I’d rather hang out with people like this guy I met a few weeks ago, a friend of one of my boyfriend’s friends, who, upon meeting me, asked, “So, what’s your passion?” None of this “Where do you work?” nonsense. Because, really, who cares where your green paper comes from.
I ordered a quilt from The Company Store ("TCS") on the 11th. The order is now being processed. This morning I got email from TCS offering free shipping for this week only. I called TCS to see if I could take advantage of that offer, but unfortunately, because my order is already being processed, it cannot be changed or cancelled. This means I cannot save the $16.95 shipping cost! This miffs me.
I suppose there are more important things to fret over in the world, like Whole Foods not selling nutritional yeast, so I'll just have to live with this.
The two books wait on the shelf, patience waning, as they wait for me to finally pay them the attention they deserve.
“Hey, we didn’t ask to come live with you,” the bolder of the two says.
The other adds a wan “Yeah”.
I apologize to them and gently counsel to stop slouching, as I straighten them on the shelf until they resemble sentinels.
Yeah, sentinels watching over me as I sit at my desk, clueless as to how to create a “hanging indent”. Which I’d know how to do if only I’d referred to at least one of them.
I knew something was up when Shana started dancing like mad across the floor. At first I thought she only wanted to show off (and I do mean show off – this cat wears her pajamas well!) her latest "mewves", but unfortunately I was wrong.
Unless, of course, her latest dance partner was a large live roach.
Alas, this is New York City, so this is “expected”, and it’s happened before. And yes, I’m grateful for Shana’s diligence and vigilance. But for every one she doesn’t catch, there’s another one waiting, dead, for my broom to sweep-crunch it from underneath something.
Mom’s in the foreground, under 30, beautiful, big-white-tooth laughing and smiling-eye squinting up at Dad, unseen, wielding the movie camera. Then back to their background son, doing the kid-on-the-beach romp. Seagull-chasing, sand-flinging, water-touching-toes-squealing.
Breeze fingers ruffle Mom’s hair. She adjusts the white band that keeps it off her face. Pantomimes scissors and mouths her usual: “I’m just gonna chop it all off!”
Ten years later, and she doesn’t worry about hair anymore. Chemotherapy’s removed the problem. Another five, and her son, pre-funeral, stares at this black-and-white footage, wet-faced.
It’d be sad, if only Lifetime Television hadn’t cliched it to death.
Tweaking an existing Blogger, Typepad, Movable Type, Wordpress, or any other template, changing the colors around a little and moving the sidebar, doesn’t make you a website designer. Just like writing on your blog about how your supposed “soulmate” wronged you or that gum-cracking bitch in line at Costco or the joy of making snow angels with your “hubby” and “rugrats” doesn’t make you a writer. Just like tiptoeing on the treadmill at 3.0 mph for half an hour three evenings a week doesn’t make you an athlete. Just like fucking someone more than twice doesn’t make him your boyfriend.
Although my synesthesia can sometimes seem intrusive, and I want to wave my hand to dismiss the red threes and the green fours as pests, and tell the decades to stop forming convoluted patterns inside my head and the numbers to stop chattering among themselves, for the most part I revel in its existence and enjoy its uninvited participation in every facet of my life. If not for the synesthesia, my mind, when relaxed and left to wander, would never see me lying in bed next to the number nine or see the color orange when I’m kissing my boyfriend.
“A penny for your thoughts,” Mark says. “Wha’cha thinkin’?"
Linda knows that if he had access to his jeans, in a heap on the floor by his side of the bed, he’d be reaching into their front pocket to retrieve a penny and hold it in front of her eyes. But he’s wrapped around her and doesn’t want to move, because if he does, she’ll leave bed and go downstairs, where she’ll take root in the breakfast nook and moments later he’ll disappear behind the newspaper.
“You can’t afford to know what I’m thinking,” she thinks.
“Nothing much,” she says.
The dry cleaners’ son’s kiss is the wettest I’ve ever known. His mouth, with its full lips and lovely white teeth behind them, was, until a minute ago, a joy to behold as it talked to me and laughed with me. But now? Descending, wide-open, upon my mouth, spilling saliva into it, and now, unwelcome, unaware, still probing for further entry, drool oozing in waves over my grimace, onto my shirt, as this newly revealed boy-beast slurps his way toward his own private ecstasy? No!
"I’ll send you the dry-cleaning bill," I say, as I push him out the door.
So far I’m not convinced that today’s visit to Pottery Barn is going to yield anything that will dejade me, but I’m there with my friend who seems to think the place holds treasures. I don’t have the heart to tell her that in all the years I’ve known her, I’ve never known her to prove it.
From across the room, I spy a rotary phone and dash over, thinking maybe today’s the day. Of course I know it’s a reproduction, but it could still be fun, right?
Absolutely not. Not with pushbuttons where the finger-holes should be.
How is it that if I have only 15 minutes to be somewhere, I can get there with time to spare, but if I have three hours to prepare, I invariably arrive late? Is this like the “pocketbook theory”, where you fill the space with so much garbage, to accommodate the availability?
If have three hours to be somewhere, I’ll cram in all this other stuff that doesn’t need to be done, until I’m left with no time at all to prepare for what does, and then curse myself and the event I’m going to or the person I’m meeting.
The only women I am interested in having as friends are those who not only never use words like “empowered” or “sisterhood” or “yoni” but sneer at them. Who would never be caught dead sitting around in a big circle, stitching quirky quilts or knitting kooky hats, sipping twig tea or chai, while wearing clunky maryjanes and whimsical socks that look like something out of Baby Gap. My friends, while not bimbos, don’t see the sense in sensible shoes, prefer “tits” to “breasts”, and spit out “cunt” like tobacco. They buys their bedding and hats in stores. And prefer coffee.
The next time I am in the frame of mind where I do not want to let a smile be my umbrella and would prefer to skulk around town in the shower of a glower, and someone tells me to smile (which in itself is infuriating) and then adds on the dubious little kicker of "It takes more muscles to frown than to smile," I will challenge that person to help me with my dilemma by responding, "But does it take more muscles for me to actually say 'Fuck off' or to just use my fists to the same effect?"
Saturday night, minutes before midnight, and we’re side by side on his sofa, three feet apart, each focused in silence on our own activity. About a dozen candles flicker and tease on various surfaces around us, inviting romance that neither of us seems interested in pursuing. What the hell is this? I shudder to think we’ve become the modern version of the traditional “old married couple” -- separated and alienated by the newfangled version of newspapers: laptops. Except for the rustle and flip of the paper page, there’s the clack of the keyboard and the faint click of the mouse
The swingy springy coat that I’d coveted in the Anthropologie window months ago, which I couldn’t “justify” buying, especially at full-price, because I didn’t “need” it, waves to me from where it now lounges on a hanger on the outside of my closet door, thanks to a recent romp to the store’s website, to spend the $100 bill that my boyfriend gave me (“a gift certificate to anywhere you want!”), where I discovered the coat waiting for me to own and love it for a fraction of the original price. So who was I to pretend I didn’t “need” it!?
The dead man’s shirts wait for him at the dry cleaner’s, eager for the unveiling of the plastic. This event is second only to the moment when they shrug free from wire hangers that force them into too-perfect posture.
The dry cleaner, not knowing the dead man would be dying, removed all stray objects from the shirt pockets before shipping the load off for treatment, including a slip of paper containing information that may have led to identification of the murderer.
However, that’s of no consequence, because the lipstick that cannot be removed from the collar leads to her anyway.
I’d hoped to be sleeping when he slipped into my apartment. He was coming directly here from the airport, after having spent five nights not sleeping next to me, and we were to remedy that immediately upon his arrival. Alas, I was still up, playing with the Nintendo DS he had bought me months earlier, like a good little girl geek. Sudoku trumps sleep, apparently.
His key in the lock is trying hard not to wake me up, but the key-wielder himself is met with a laughing version of me, chastising herself for not being asleep.
Welcome home, my love!
My brother always knew when I’d been in the Raisin Bran. The box-shake above his bowl would yield a barrage of flakes but very few raisins, because already I would’ve picked most of them from the inner plastic bag. Oh, what joy those raisins, sugared to asphyxiation, desiccated and wrinkled far beyond the limits of a regular raisin, brought me!
Attempts to trick him, by adding fresh raisins to the flakes waiting inside the plastic bag and mixing it up with my hand, were never satisfactory. Because he, like I, was really only eating it for those tiny tiny raisins.
After rejecting many invitations, I finally, in a moment of rare pliability, surrendered, and not only registered for Facebook but sent “friend requests” to scads of friends with whom I’d corresponded via Gmail. More satisfying than having the rank of “friend” validated by their acceptance was searching for and finding two high school friends -- one I hadn’t seen in a decade and one since his 1979 graduation. Other than that, though, Facebook is like a big note passed around a fifth-grade classroom. And when I ignore someone’s “hug request”, I feel like I’m denying someone a perforated drugstore valentine.
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